In this feature, we talk to Jennifer Lynn, a model, civil engineer, and cancer society volunteer. While Jennifer used to run NCAA Division I cross-country too, an accident 5 years ago shortened her competitive running career. Always the glass half-full type of person, Jennifer used her downtime from the accident to begin her modeling career. Read more below to unravel the world of modeling and also find out why civil engineers aren’t boring people.
F: We’re amazed at your accomplishments to date…why the dual track in modeling and civil engineering?
JL: I formerly ran on cross country but post accident I was no longer able to run due to the damage to my back and leg. Therefore, I had ample amount of free time and the modeling jobs paid well so I opted to try it out. The jobs I had were fun, allowed me a creative outlet it my otherwise technical life, and helped me pay for school – it was a win-win situation. I continued to pursue my engineering degree while juggling my modeling jobs and still do to this day because it has become part of who I am and more simply, just what I do. I feel very blessed for the opportunity and ability to do both.
F: If a really strange opportunity came up for you to relive a segment of either Joseph Strauss’ (the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge) or Twiggy Lawson’s (pioneering English model) life, who would you choose? Why?
JL: I would choose Joseph Strauss as his work will live on much longer than the work of Twiggy and he has done more for bettering humanity than that which a model can ever accomplish, in my opinion.
F: What goes through your mind when you pose for a camera?
JL: Modeling is a little difficult because, unlike engineering, everything isn’t black and white. It is an art where beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that which you are creating can only be as good as the worst party involved in the process. What may be ‘right’ on one shoot might be ‘wrong’ on another. While posing I try to concentrate on how my body is angled and shaped in reference to the lights and my facial expression for the particular pose, then I try to imagine how I look from the photographers point of view.
F: Out of all the photos taken of you, which one is your favorite?
JL: My favorite photos are those which I perform all duties (makeup, hair,
etc) aside from that of the photographer. Of all the photos I have taken to date, the ‘Junk Yard Warrior’ and ‘Steel Siren’ photos are my favorites because I poured so much of myself into it as I did everything besides take the photo, and the final product met and exceeded my expectations.
F: If you could build something, anything, what would it be?
JL: A time machine! Then I would meet myself in 20 years and take my own advice, my own version of ‘Back to the Future’! I think I would need an electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering degree for starters, so my civil engineering background really wouldn’t help.
F: We like geocaching too! Have you found a geocache in any place interesting?
JL: I found one in some sort of military box. The box itself was what I wanted to take rather than something inside the box. For the difficult cache’s, I found one about ten feet off the ground in a hole in a tree. We spent quite a bit of time looking before we were able to narrow it down to the hole we couldn’t reach then my friend put me on his shoulders and ta-da, success!
F: What’s the sexiest piece of infrastructure you’ve seen? Why?
JL: Argonne National Laboratory is in my neck of the woods and one of the most impressive buildings I have been in to date. The amount of research that goes on there, the security they have to protect it, and the actual layout of the building is beyond impressive. They first came to the forefront from their participation in the Manhattan project aka developing the atom bomb (some of the remains from the project are buried in the surrounding forest preserves through which I run in Palos called Red Gate Woods, markers are there if you wanted to check it out). My favorite part of the building is the electron storage ring. It is a radiation proof ring inside the experimental hall that houses magnets through which electrons are sent. When all is said and done, it creates the brightest x-ray beams in all of the Western Hemisphere!
Few questions about Chicago
F: Who are your favorite clothing designers in Chicago? What are your favorite clothing stores?
Tatyanna Merenyuk is an up and coming designer, she makes some really cute dresses. Veronika Kotlakic makes sexy couture wear. Another designer/store would be Akira by John Cotay. His following has grown with leaps and bounds over the past few years. For mainstream brands, I love to shop at BCBG, Guess, Bebe, and Marciano! I love their designs and the way their clothing fits my body!
F: What is the best place to enjoy nature in Chicago?
I am a suburban girl so I rarely go to the city to enjoy nature; I go to the city to enjoy the city! In the burbs there are several amazing nature trails that are part of the Cook and Dupage Country Forest Preserves you can find me running through on a regular basis. One of my favorites is called Waterfall Glen in Darien, Illinois. It surrounds Argonne National Laboratory and has several waterfalls, ridges, and amazing trails that will show you nature at its finest and only 30 minutes from the city. Bring your bike, your running shoes, your dog and make a day of it! The largest trail is a 10 mile loop and you are free from cars, shaded from the sun, and don’t have to run on the concrete or pavement!
F: What do you recommend people do this summer?
If possible, take some lazy summer days and fill them with sailing and boating on Lake Michigan. You can bask in the glory of our skyline and listen to the sounds of birds from above and the water hitting the boat below. I had a new appreciation for the city once I saw it from the lake. It epitomizes the beauty of Chicago and all it has to offer.
F: Favorite buildings in Chicago? How about favorite green structures?
JL: My favorite building is the Trump Tower. It is the second tallest building on our skyline, the largest concrete-reinforced building in all of North America, has some amazing views of the city, the location is superior to that of the Sears Tower (more recently known as the Willis Tower), their restaurant sixteen is simply delicious, and I was there when they finally put the spire on the top in January!
The residential building 340 on the Park (340 East Randolph St) was the first silver level LEED certified building in the Midwest and it is right here in Chicago! One of my friends lives there and I love all the measures the designers and engineers took to reduce their environmental impact so it is by far my favorite green structure, and the view of Millennium park from the building is also amazing.
F: Where can we find civil engineers in the city?
JL: Contrary to popular belief, civil engineers are not bookworms, have social lives as well as friends, and a sense of style. For dancing you can find us at the clubs on the dance floor dressed to the nines (I am currently a frequent visitor of Manor, Level, BonV, and Rino). Because we love to help people, we also like to volunteer. My NFPO of choice is the American Cancer Society; I have been assisting with their Relay For Life fundraising projects since I was in high school. Many of us are in various organizations that specialize in what we do. I am on the board for an energy group called the Chicago chapter of Young Professionals in Energy. Feel free to Come to our next event! Good food is another key to keeping a civil engineer happy and unwinding from a long day. Some of my favorite places to go for dinner are Rockit Bar and Grill, Japonais, the Oven Grinder, Tru, and sixteen for starters. We are just your average Chicagoans that take part in mainstream activities who just happen to also love math, science, and structures in general.